What in the world?

What kind of world is this we’re living in…

Takes a lot love
takes a lot love these days
to keep your heart from freezing
to keep your spirit free…
oh my oh my

David Grey “My oh my”

What in the world is going on with the world? What in the world is going on in Colorado? Last night, 12 people were killed as they enjoyed a movie. The account is brutal – people mistakenly thinking the arrival of a gunman was some strange stunt for the Batman premier. Chaos ensuing, people scrambling, terror breaking out. Suddenly forest fires are not the worst thing happening in our state. Still devastating to us. Still devastating to those that lost loved ones.

What makes one tragedy any worse than another? Nothing really to those that lose loved ones. Nothing at all.

What makes the news? Big tragedies. Then, bigger still. As I sit watching the rain fall in Seattle, I feel safe for the moment. What is safe these days? Driving a car isn’t safe, living in the mountains isn’t safe, going to the movies for a midnight show isn’t safe. It appears that life just isn’t safe.

What would make someone do something so horrible? What twisted, bent, disturbed view of reality would make someone not just snap, but pre-plan a massacre? The sad fact is it happens all the time, everywhere. We, in the USA, are mostly immune to it. Then, something happens that is way outside the norm and we all stop and mourn together.

The gentle rain outside turns to pouring rain. Par for the course here. Much needed still in the West. Our fire was forgotten by the time High Park fire was raging out of control, then the Waldo Canyon fire pushed High Park off the headlines. A police officer was killed by a gang member at an outdoor concert recently but now 12 people have been killed and many more injured. The walking wounded are everywhere in our fine state and those in other lesser traumatized (for the time being) states mourn with us.

Mom with Uncle Gerry and Uncle Tryg

And at the Mayo clinic in Minnesota, my uncle is breathing his last breaths. Are my family members any less sad than those who lost people in the shooting last night? Uncle Gerry checked himself into the Mayo due to the necessity of more procedures to take care of a rare illness. He didn’t come back after the procedure. Life support was removed and he still breathes on. For how long, no one knows.

We all have heard the advice to not leave anything undone, don’t leave angry, don’t forget to tell people you love them. How many people had unfinished business with those who died last night? How many parents had arguments with their kids as they slammed out the door to the movies? How many couples said angry words not knowing they were the last?

We know better, yet we don’t live like each moment could be our last. I didn’t say goodbye to Uncle Gerry. He was ‘on my list’ to call for quite a while and I never quite got around to it. I knew he was in the hospital and I figured he would be ok. I thought I would still have a chance to call. There wasn’t unfinished business between us but I hadn’t talked to him in way too long. Uncle Gerry and Uncle Tryg were my heroes when I was little. Big, beautiful, funny and strong, these two men were rough and tumble, playful and my only Uncles. I cherished them and the visits we had. My

‘Ger Bear‘. Faded memories surface of a bear Gerry gave me combined with what I called him. A picture of my mom and Uncle Gerry both looking like movie stars from the 70’s. He was a football player version of Robert Redford with a twinkle in his eye and a huge loving heart. Gerry and Tryg would tickle me until I cried uncle. Now, I cry uncle.

He is on his way out. Maybe to somewhere else, maybe not. We don’t really know. We can only hope there is a place of rest and peace where we all get to go and perhaps gather again.

I wish I had picked up the phone to hear his voice one more time. I wish that I had one more chance for a goodbye and an “I love you.” Sometimes we won’t get that chance. Will we let this brutal reminder remind us? Probably for a moment. Then the next time we think we are right and justify being angry or nasty or worse, we will forget. We will leave a phone call angry, leave our lover pissed off – and we won’t know, until we know, if that will be the last time.

The drizzle morphs to pouring rain again and we pack our bags to head for San Juan Island, further still from the struggling state of Colorado and from my Uncle lying in his bed at the Mayo. We will catch a ferry and hope to see whales. I will be nice to my husband today. I will smile at some strangers. I will think about people’s pain and suffering and sadness. I will feel the anguish – understand some of it, and have no idea of the severity of more of it. I will count myself lucky to have only lost my home. I will wish I could kiss Gerry’s cheek as I still choose to head further west.

I will wonder and question the meaning of all of it with the rest of you who stop for a moment before we hurry on with our busy lives.

  • Terry Sanders
    Posted at 17:05h, 20 July

    Perhaps there is no better place to practice not waiting than in expressing our love and appreciation for one another. Imagine a world where the natural flow of this expression is not suppressed.

    I love you.

  • Gersan
    Posted at 14:51h, 22 July

    I wish I could write like you. Admiration for your forbearance is an understatement.
    please include me in your mailing list.
    I am praying for you and your family. There is a God. It’s OK to be angry with Him. He knows. All He wants is for us to turn to Him.He just doesn’t want to be ignored.

  • Marijke van der Plas
    Posted at 17:38h, 22 July

    Dear Kristen,
    I am an old friend of your mother’s and was so sorry to hear the sad news of your Uncle…am with you both in thought and sad sentiment. Your mother resent me your Blog and, I am so happy to reacquaint myself with it and you.
    I love the way you write.
    Have sent it on to some close friends and one of them..Gersan Zurita..just wrote to me that he has ioined it.
    Please know that I am thinking of you…Love, Marijke

  • Shaya
    Posted at 19:00h, 22 July

    Beautiful Kristen. Thank you. My heart feels a little bit wider open after reading this. Love you!